Have you ever been stuck on hold for hours when trying to get through to a company's customer service helpline? You're definitely not alone.
Anton Savage ran into this problem himself during the week when he attempted to cancel a COVID-19 test.
After getting stuck on hold, he attempted to cancel the payment via his bank instead - but just ended up stuck on hold there as well.
While the service in question did have a refund policy, Sinead Ryan - consumer columnist and host of Newstalk's The Home Show - told Anton firms aren't actually legally obliged to give a refund if the customer simply decides to not avail of the service.
She explained: “The truth is law does not permit a refund - it doesn’t even require them to give you a refund at any stage. As far as they’re concerned, you booked a service… and you chose not to avail of it.
“If they have a cancellation and refund policy… that’s brilliant! But lots of companies don’t, and they don’t have to."
For those who are trying to cancel a booking or secure a refund, they'll likely find getting through to customer service can be an absolute nightmare - often ending up on hold for hours or even being transferred from one customer service rep to another.
Although this may prove immensely frustrating for existing customers, Sinead said it makes some sense from a company's perspective.
She said: “The money is to be made from new customers and business customers - they’re the biggies. That’s where they want their staff directed.
“It’s just the laws of economics. It is a shame, and it shouldn’t be like this. But that’s partially why they have ‘press 1 for this, press 2 for this...’: they want to know your whingy phonecall is going to go to department x, but the new business case who is about to spend a whole chunk of money is going to department a.”
Some industries, meanwhile, are well regulated - telecoms firms, for example, are frequently fined by ComReg for delays and issues in dealing with customer complaints or problems.
However, Sinead suggested a fine may actually be cheaper for some companies than it would cost to hire the dozens of people needed to address customer service problems.
She said: “[Firms] will argue they’re doing a good job - they’re providing broadband, getting flights in the air, or providing swabs for people who want to travel. That is the service.
“I’m not on the side of the companies - I think they could all do better, and do what they do in a better way. But sometimes the customer is not always right.”
She also noted that staff in call centres often have a tough job that's not particularly well paid.
Some staff members do receive excellent training, and customers will therefore receive good service once they actually get through to a human.
However, even they still probably have a large volume of calls to get through - hence why repetitive hold music and automated messages will remain a frustrating but inescapable part of the customer's experience.